Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

OUTDOORS: Surf Fishing Is a Game of Patience, Durability

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

OUTDOORS: Surf Fishing Is a Game of Patience, Durability

Article excerpt

FORT MORGAN | For me, fishing will always be a warm weather sport. That's particularly true down on the Gulf, where I've been spending some time lately.

But I noticed some of my northern brethren - snowbirds wintering in the south - doing a good bit of surf fishing. So I couldn't resist asking if they'd had any success. When I found out some of them were catching pompano, the true trophy of surf fishing, I knew I had to try.

The first couple of times, I tried it when the north wind was blowing. Those are cold days but the air is so clear you can see across the Gulf for miles and the near-shore water is very calm and usually clear because the land blocks the wind from churning it up.

The only problem was that I sat there for several hours without the suggestion of a bite. And yet, I never failed to see people scattered up and down the beach with lines out. And people who walk the beaches kept telling me about the successful anglers they'd seen on their stroll.

I asked an acquaintance from Arkansas, Ray Ticknor, what he'd been doing and he gave me a couple of tips. First, the fish bite best on sunny days all right but the wind, preferably a light breeze, should be from the south.

There are rare moments when the conditions conspire to create a beautifully clear day with a light southern breeze and warm temperatures. When It happens, it's time to grab the rods and bait because it damn sure won't last.

The second thing I learned from Ray is that I was using the wrong bait. The successful surf anglers were using an artificial called "Fish Bites." It looks and feels about like a thick, brightly colored, stick of chewing gum.

The Gumby replicas obviously worked and so I decided to try it. And unbelievably, the proper elements all came together while I was here. But of course, the beautifully clear, warm day with the light southern breeze occurred on the exact two days I was neck deep in important projects that I absolutely could not rearrange.

I didn't believe that the weather could possibly last for a third days in winter. But it did. I planned to pick up some Fish Bites and re-spool my surf reel with some lighter line so that I could throw it farther. I had a couple of chores and then I would head to the beach.

Unfortunately, those few small duties stretched into bigger and lengthier tasks. I bogged down in unusually heavy traffic. And then there was rigging up the rods. Age has made me very far-sighted and my small motor skills have never been great.

I watched as the sun sank lower in the sky knowing that I had already missed the prime midday hours which are reportedly best at this time of year. But finally I was at the beach. I flipped the bail on my Penn reel, dropped the 10-foot rod over my shoulder and heaved the surf rig toward Cuba. …

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